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For centuries, the United States government has taken Native American children away from their tribes, devastating parents and denying children their traditions, culture, and identity. First Light documents these practices from the 1800s to today, and tells the story of an unprecedented experiment in truth-telling and healing for Wabanaki people and child welfare workers in Maine.
In 2015 the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission concluded that Native people in Maine continue to be targets of "cultural genocide." The commission is the topic of a documentary film, Dawnland, currently in postproduction and slated for release in early 2017.
Laura Kole is a social studies teacher who is ready to tackle obstacles that hamper student learning. She teaches Virginia & United States History, Advanced placement (AP) Government, and AP Psychology at Indian River High School in Chesapeake, Virginia. Her classroom instruction includes kinesthetic continuums, geographical analysis, collaborative projects, presentations, storytelling, and often uses music like Meghan Trainor’s You Lie Lie Lie! during brain breaks. She believes student success underlines her planning choices. When instruction is the subject Kole’s energy explodes! That energy is contagious as her students have opportunities to engage in academic conversations and refine their evaluations of historical figures and events. She believes, it is important that students make a connection to content. For an example, one of the most memorable experiences she “holds onto” happened when students recognized her appreciation for Langston Hughes’ 1945 poem I Too Sing America. The ensuing discussion focused on their common cultural traits. Kole never wants to forget that education is more than SOL material. She believes “there is so much more to teach our students” than the scope of the textbook. Her goals include creating an environment where students will challenge themselves and appreciate the “sacrifices” our predecessors made to expand the rights of Americans.
Laura has taught for nine years as a social studies teacher, but believes she can do more. She has provided numerous in-services on technology and AVID strategies to her colleagues. She is a volleyball coach, sponsors the National Honor Society, serves as a school representative on the District Staff Development Council as well as serving as the 504 chairperson in her building. Finally, she is hoping to work with her department to launch a Saturday Study Blitz to during SOL review days which will not only help with assessments, but will boost student confidence.
Spotlight written by,
Supervisor High School Social Studies
Two Henrico County Public Schools teachers have been chosen to receive the 2015 Robert H. Jackson Center National Award for Teaching Justice. This prestigious award is granted to individuals who make outstanding efforts to teach justice in their classrooms in creative, inspiring ways - which these teachers have done through the implementation of the Prevention Project program!
The Prevention Project is a curriculum created by the Richmond Justice Initiative that deals with the topic of Human Trafficking. Teachers Jeannine Chewning and Colleen Savino were honored for their efforts to make sure students are aware of statistics, warning signs, how human trafficking works and how to fight it, which they've been doing for four years now.
"They feel like they are a part of something that's going on now," Savino says. "The most powerful part of it is them getting involved in the community and feeling like they're doing something to help stop this. When you empower young people amazing things happen."
During the four years of the Prevention Project, students have had movie nights, panel discussions, petitioned the General Assembly, made public service announcements, and much more.
They will be honored again at the NCSS Conference in New Orleans on Friday, November 13.
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